Calling Doctor Magic, Doctor Magic


April 8, 2010 by David Gillaspie

Cure for stomach pain?

A neighbor stopped by the B&B for a cup of coffee last week.  They brought a copy of a newspaper article.  They also brought some attitude. 

“Northwest Portland physician Mark Crislip, an infectious disease specialist, needs an appointment with a naturopath.  In a recent Portland Tribune story, Peter Korn’s ‘Paging Dr. Alternative’, Crislip explains the difference between medical doctors and naturopathic doctors: 

“Their (naturopaths) primary curriculum is based on magic,” he says.  


If Dr. Crislip is the point man for MDs regarding naturopathic medicine, they might want to find someone less feverish.

One board certified, state licensed, health-care provider degrading other board certified, state licensed health-care providers does little to improve health-care in general, and smears all medical doctors equally. 

The Harry Potter School of Medicine is not the accredited institution issuing naturopathic degrees in America.  The faith-healer in the grainy middle school films massaging a patient’s abdomen and removing tumors, or chicken giblets, is not a naturopathic doctor. 

Naturopaths don’t order potions and fairy dust from The House of Merlin. 

They take blood samples and send them to the local labs; they don’t use a crystal ball to read the results.  They send patients out for x-rays; they don’t spread tea leaves to interpret the results.  They focus on their patients instead of a computer screen; they don’t sacrifice a lamb and study the entrails for a clear diagnosis of health issues, or consult the Oracle of Delphi. 

Is there magic in healthcare?  What else can you call a CT scan, PET scan, MRI, or even an x-ray.  Seeing through a body even sounds magical, let alone seeing different depths in the body.  Even Superman with his special vision thinks it’s magic.  

Since Mark Crislip speaks against naturopathic doctors in such shrill, hysterical terms, can he be speaking for all MDs? 

Are his alarming words designed to focus attention away from his field of medicine?  If so, he is too late to the game.  The era of health-care reform has already lifted the curtain on modern medicine. 

A recent Newsweek story, This Won’t Hurt A Bit, cites the Rand Corporation / The Milbank Quarterly, William Weintraub, and the Christiana Center for Outcomes Research for their numbers in listing what they called “pointless procedures.” 

“$33.3 billion for gratuitous medical imaging, CT, MRI, PET scans;;  $11.1 billion for ineffective spinal surgeries;  $2 billion for unnecessary angioplasty with or without stents;  $1.1 billion for inappropriate hysterectomies;  $550 million for needless antibiotics for viral infections.” 

Is this the tip of a financial iceberg, or something else? 

Author Sharon Begley writes that most in the medical industry worked to keep health-care reform from exploding.  Big Pharma agreed to give up $80 billion in revenue over the next decade.  Hospitals agreed to cut $155 billion.  

The American Medical Association “pledged to support health-care reform only if its members’ incomes didn’t take a hit.” 

Dr. Howard Brody at the University of Texas Medical Branch says, “doctors rip off the system with inappropriate care.” 

Dr. Elliot Fisher of Dartmouth Medical School estimates that unnecessary care kills 30,000 Americans each year, a figure that includes only Medicare patients. 

These doctors stand up and speak to health-care reform in terms of money and lives, lots of money and lots of lives. 

Peter Korn quotes Kimball Atwood, a Boston-area anesthesiologist, “Any MD looking at that would go ‘Oh my god, who would do that,’” regarding naturopathic doctors prescribing colchicine for back pain that resulted in three deaths.  

According to Mr. Korn, a Portland physician working alongside naturopaths prescribed the drug that led to the deaths.  The cause was a bad batch of the drug, not bad doctoring. 

The next time you feel like you need medical attention, ask yourself a few questions:  Is there a doctor in town?  If there is, when can I get in to see them?  Use an informed opinion before you make your decision. 

If you happen to find an infectious disease specialist working on the cure for wheat germ, keep looking.


3 thoughts on “Calling Doctor Magic, Doctor Magic

  1. deegeesbb says:

    Re: Naturopathy providers water down health care
    Dear Dr. Crislip, MD,
    You are correct, sir, people do deserve better as you wrote. But is ‘better’ defined by your take on Naturopathic Doctors? You can do better than that, can’t you?

    The point of the original article ‘Paging Doctor Alternative’ was the lack of primary physicians, the family doctor. Dr. Crislip, are you a primary physician or an infectious specialist. If you were a primary doctor you could lesson the strain on patients in need of a primary doctory by one.

    Is the shortage of primary doctors due to Naturopathic doctors pushing Medical doctors out of their preferred mode of practice? Or is it a financial decision based on the debt repayment Medical doctors face after graduating medical school. Specialist equals more cash than generalist.

    Dr. Crislip, instead of shaking your stick toward Naturopathic doctors, a group licensed by the state to treat and prescribe, why not address the cost of medical school education, the cost of insurance, the cost of hospitalization.

    Perhaps, sir, you’ve missed the point of healthcare reform. Naturopathic doctors have not driven the costs, have they? It’s another group of caring people, your profession. Is it worth your hissy fit to pump up the science and medicine connection? You might want to re-check that road-most-taken, and while you’re at it include a link that goes somewhere.

    You can do that.

    In closing, Dr. Crislip, I’m sure you are a serious man involved in serious issues like secondary infections in hospitals, strep, skin eating bacteria, the sort of things you might expect an infectious disease specialist to focus on.

    Instead you take aim at Naturopathic doctors. I’m not one to slam Medical doctors, Naturopathic doctors, or Chiropractic doctors. I believe they all have their place. You choose to ignore the intelligence of the patient with your screed. Regardless of the doctor or the treatment, the patient has the final say. Do the words ‘decline treatment’ sound familiar?

    In these uncertain times where doctors need to be paid to discuss end of life choices with their patients, trust is huge. Bernie Madoff oozed trust, then violated it. Enron enouraged their employees to keep their retirement funds with the company, then folded. It is a time to build trust, not kick it down.

    Tell us, Dr. Crislip, how are you building trust? Are you helping patients make an informed decision regarding their health?

    No one cares about leeches and bloodletting tools and the importance of sleeping with the window closed to prevent evil ‘night vapors’. Science has moved beyond that. Doctor’s understand the science of infection and know to wash their hands, right?

    Why not be a credit to your profession and tell the audience how they can improve their health. If you didn’t know, that’s what Naturopathic doctors do. They work to build up the body’s natural resistance to infection. An infectious disease specialist like you knows how important that is. If not, check with a Naturopathic Doctor in your neighborhood.


    David Gillaspie

  2. Daniel says:

    Came across your blog today, wanted to say Thank you. Well said.

    In Health.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Good health to you too, Daniel. How often do we forget the most important person in the health equation, which is the patient.

      Thanks for coming in,


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